99.9% of the businesses in the UK are SMEs (Small and medium enterprises) which account for over half (52 %) of the UK’s private sector turnover. This also includes immigrants who are in UK on Tier 1 Investor, Sole representatives of overseas business, sole representatives of media houses, Tier 1 entrepreneurs. They also account for approximately three fifths of the workforce (employment) in the UK. Covid-19 has caused an unprecedented economic slump for SMEs, thereby, having a tremendous impact on the UK’s economy.
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Ecommerce related SMEs dealing with the online sale of ‘essential goods’ have managed to survive this impact unscathed and even profitably. Needless to say, the other industry sectors have not been so lucky. Especially hard hit industries include: hospitality, leisure, retail and travel.
The UK government has stepped up to introduce various schemes in order to help SMEs survive the current economic conditions and to prevent a devastating surge in the unemployment benefits to be paid out. Some of these initiatives which include:
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
All UK employers with a PAYE scheme which started on or before 28 February 2020 will be eligible to claim 80% of furloughed employees’ (employees on a leave of absence) usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month. In addition to the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage. Employers can access this scheme anytime during this period.
Employers are not required to make-up the 20% of the lost wages for employees.
Deferring VAT and Self-Assessment payments
The HMRC is deferring all VAT payments until June 2020. Any deferred VAT is then due by 31 March 2021.
Returns must still be filed. All UK VAT registered businesses are eligible to access this scheme. The 31 March 2020 update confirms delays for payments-on-account. It delays the UK Governments phase 2 changes to the Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT regulation.
This would immediately boost cash flow for businesses and act as an interest free loan of up to 20% of sales of the preceding 3 months for businesses.
The VAT Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS VAT) which is a way of paying VAT on supplies of certain digital services will be excluded from a three-month VAT holiday. Taxpayers on direct debits must cancel them if they wish to take advantage of the VAT holiday.
Accessing the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme
Aims to help with tax, which gives all UK SMEs who will be automatically eligible to access this scheme, the ability to set up a structured payment plan for debt repayment over an agreed time. The HMRC will likely allow companies more time to pay the overdue tax due to the virus, but the exact amount of time will be decided on a case by case basis.
Statutory sick pay relief
Is available for UK SMEs to access this scheme, who employ no fewer than 250 employees as of 28 Feb 2020.
Having a 12-month business rates holiday
Which is only for all UK retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses which would be eligible to access this scheme.
Using grant funding
This covers £10,000 to £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property to access this scheme with a rateable grant (If you receive the Small Business Rate Relief for an occupied property, including a nursery or childcare facility, and the rateable value of your property is £15,000 or less, you are entitled to a rateable grant payment of £10,000) value between £15,000 and £51,000 for them to use.
This money does not have to be paid back and the property tax for the current financial has been eliminated.
SME grant funding
Allows UK businesses to access this scheme to use up to £10,000 of rate relief or rural rate relief. Further eligibility states that SMEs should be in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief as of 11 March 2020 and that business must occupy a property.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
Offers loans of up to £5 million for SMEs who have an annual turnover of no more than £45 million through the British Business Bank. access this scheme which aims to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance.
A new lending facility
Which comes from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans. Companies – and their finance subsidiaries – that make a material contribution to the UK economy will be eligible to access this scheme.
It is important for SMEs to be informed of all the help available to them and there is no need for them to shut shop yet! In the same way, instead of treating the lockdown as an unexpected holiday, SME’s can utilise this time to avail the above mentioned schemes applicable to them, focus on business improvements and get their business ready for the its post-Covid operations.
If you are considering entering the UK as Tier 1 Investor, Sole representative of overseas business, sole representative of media house, or extending your Tier 1 entrepreneur application, contact our UK immigration expert.
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